Trace element anomaly in surface water and the probable health implications within Kumalu, Bulolo District
Medical Geology is a new interdisciplinary field that has been gaining a lot of attention around the world (Sunitha & Reddy, 2012). To a lot of people, Medicine and Geology seems too far unrelated to be connected, the former dealing with healing people, and the latter with rocks and minerals and the distant past. There can be no doubt that certain naturally occurring materials, elements, and chemicals can be harmful to human, animal, and plant health; toxic elements in groundwater, the “poisoning” effect of natural heavy metals on vegetation, or deficiencies of essential elements in food crops (Skinner, 2003).
Health issues related to a region’s geology are visible in both humans and animals on almost every continent, and can range from arsenic contaminated groundwater in Bangladesh to molybdenosis in Canadian cattle (Bowman, 2003). In China, Keshan’s Disease (KD) and Kashin-Beck Disease (KBD) were prevalent in some areas and were seen to be related to selenium deficient soils. The soils formed from Archean metamorphic and Jurassic volcanic rocks low in selenium (Sun et al, 2016). High concentration of fluoride in groundwater is related to dental and skeletal fluorosis. Globally more than 200 million people from 25 nations are suffering from the aforementioned diseases (Bundchuh et al, 2016).
Natural accumulation of metals and related diseases.
A. Skin lesions due to arsenicosis caused by high arsenic in groundwater.
B. dental fluorosis due to elevated fluoride in groundwater.
C. Kashin-Beck in a female caused by low selenium in the diet. D. Goitre due to iodine deficiency in the diet.
E. Map of Jamaica showing cadmium distribution according to geology; darker color indicates high cadmium. (Images taken from various sources)
Kumalu is located within the Mumeng valley, Bulolo District of Morobe Province. It is an area known for its disastrous floods and landslides. The oldest major landslide according to local recollection occurred in 1951 (Mercer, 2009). This presently active geological process has transported large amounts of rocks, sediments, vegetation, and debris from the mountain to the valley and deposited it affecting villages downstream.
Apart from the obvious damage that the landslip materials and thick sedimentation causes, there could also be hydro-geochemical changes that flooding and sedimentation causes that could likely put human health at risk. The aim of this research is to
The proposed research generally comprises pre-field desktop and literature review, field work in collaboration with MRA field project, laboratory analysis followed by the final write-up of the thesis. Specific methodology is as follows
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